The street, which takes its name from the town’s now vanished brewery (pivovar, in Slovak), is built on land that originally lay between the town’s defensive ramparts and the Všivák Brook, which served as a sort of moat under the ramparts. The town fortifications were built around 1450–60. Matthias Bel writes in his description of Trenčín County that “the town was surrounded by thick ramparts fronted with a ditch in which stakes were sunk, but the townspeople only took care of it when there was the threat of an enemy attack.”
Žilina beer also features in Bel’s lifelong work on his homeland Notitia Hungariae novae historico - geographica (Historical and Geographical Facts about Contemporary Hungary). Matthias Bel (1684–1749) was a polymath of Slovak descent who became the best-known scholar of his day from the Kingdom of Hungary. His description of Trenčín County mentions beer being brewed at Žilina in his time, the mid-18th century, and says that “some people live by trades or by brewing beer. In addition to trades, commerce and baking bread, some add the production of beer and the distillation of wine (spirits), both of which are very profitable for them. However, Žilina beer is really highly appreciated, on the same level as beer from Trenčín. Sometimes it is exported to Poland or taken down the Váh on rafts to the lower parts of the country – Komarno, Esztergom and Buda. When it is well brewed, it has a delicious taste that charms everyone and causes them to drink deeply. People who do that on an empty stomach get as drunk as if they were at party with Falernian wine.” (Falernian wine in Italy was famous for its strength). The famous Hungarian historian, geographer and demographer Elek Fényes (1807-1876) writes in his work Magyarországnak... mostani állapotja that in Žilina “the local farmland produces good rye and barley, from which the legendary Žilina beer is made, that was once very widely known and popular.” In 1869 Obzor magazine wrote that “beer and bread from Žilina were praised and enjoyed far and wide.”
A town brewery existed in Žilina in the 17th century. At that time, Žilina had a such a high reputation that the Palatine of Hungary, the king’s deputy and the highest state official in Hungary, had it shipped to the capital Pressburg (now Bratislava). In 1658 the Palatine asked the town to send him 300 tubs of beer. Beer was also used as a reward for several office holders. For example, in 1661 the town of Žilina gave Mikuláš Vešelény a calf and 2 barrels of beer.
The Town of Žilina itself did not have the right to brew beer. The rightsholders were the owners of brick-and-mortar houses in the town to which the rights were attached. The oldest surviving accounting records of the operation of the town brewery date from the business year 1631–32. There is information from the same year on the fees collected for the brewing of beer by a municipal official called the iunior cullinaris (junior kitchen clerk) which amounted in total to 156 florins. By 1681-82 the fees were 802 florins and 75 denars.
The brewery also brewed beer for the town’s use. The manager of the brewery received a portion of barley and hops from the town provisioner (the manager of the town’s agricultural property) and had to make up any shortage by purchasing raw materials. The brewery was sometimes used for making beer by other holders of management functions in the town such as the provisioner, the junior kitchen clerk, the “junior clerk of oats” (iunior avenalis) and, until the start of the 18th century, the manager of the town hospital. This official earned 119 florins from selling beer in 1651–52 and over 279 florins from its sale in 1701-02.
In the second half of the 17th century, the beer from the town brewery was tapped mainly tapped in Oščadnica, which was one of this village’s obligations when its feudal lord gave it to the town as a pledge from 1662–1691. In 1683–84 beer was tapped here for a value of 171 florins. After 1730 the townspeople of Žilina established their own beer shop on land belonging to the town on a lane called Hore Váhom near the bend in the River Váh opposite Teplička nad Váhom. A fee of 20 denars was paid to the town for every barrel of beer tapped.
Žilina’s town brewery was busiest in the first half of the 18th century. In the business year 1719–20 they brewed beer for a value of 830 florins and 10 denars and in 1726–27 there were ten and half batches of beer with a value of 884 florins and 52 denars. In 1723 the brewery came under the management of the manager of the town’s fields formerly known as the provisioner.
The Žilina maltsters had their own guild. The articles or rules of this guild have survived from 1671. In the mid-18th century, two town mills worked for this guild. At this time, 147 of the Žilina townspeople had the right to brew beer. The owners of cottages in the suburbs of Žilina also wanted this right, but they lost a court case in 1773. The beer brewing rights that were attached to some of the brick-and-mortar houses in the town survived into the 19th century.
The oldest surviving accounting records of the income and expenditure for Žilina’s town brewery (in Latin braxatorium communitatis) date from the business year 1681–82. In view of the fact that in this and following years the town’s income and expense accounts show the town brewery and town malt house as separate items, the brewery and malt house cannot be considered identical.
The brewery building was demolished in 1924. Where it stood, there is now a supporting wall, colloquially known as the balustrade, holding up the hill under the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Originally the brewery was outside the town’s residential area on the banks of the Všivák Brook. Beyond it, in the direction of today’s railway station, there were three ponds and fields. All that remains of brewery is the name Pivovarská ulica, which means Brewery Street, and some efforts by local brewers to recreate Žilina beer. The brewery brewed beer for the town’s use from malt, barley and hops that were grown in the town’s fields or bought from various sources. The town sold the beer it produced and imported wine in its own restaurant in the town hall building on the square now called Mariánske námestie. The town also operated a shop in another house on the square, at no. 31, where there were rooms for guests and visitors and a restaurant open to ordinary townspeople, market traders and people who came to the square for fairs and markets. The town also sold its beer in the House of Nobility on the square. Although this building belonged to the Manor of Strečno, it was rented to the town. The brewery was not actually owned by all the townspeople of Žilina but only by those burghers who owned a brick-and-mortar house with the privilege of brewing beer. They were entitled to tap beer for their own consumption at a certain time and in the period called the “freimark” they could tap beer for others too. To ensure transparency in business dealings an account, one specific burgher would rent the brewery for a year and provide for the direct sale of beer from the brewery.
Žilina beer was relatively well-known and had a good reputation for quality. It was presented as a gift to some of the senior county officials, served at feasts for visitors, county officials and other people from whom the town hoped for a consideration in return. The beer was also given to tradesmen who repaired town buildings, the church and the like, messengers and others. The brewery was well run, and precise records were kept of the use of malt, beer sales and how beer was used. Whenever beer was released from the stores, the responsible town servants had to record the quantity taken out. The same procedure also applied to other food that the town hall consumed on various occasions. These records from the 17th century have survived to the present day in the town’s archive and are now kept in the State Archive in Žilina. They provide a rare insight into the lives of our ancestors.
The brewery building was repaired several times. It was damaged in fires and an earthquake in 1858. The designs for the repairs after this incident were drawn up by the “Slovak Leonardo da Vinci” – the all-round artist, painter, sculptor, designer and inventor Jozef Božetech Klemens – who worked in Žilina from 1856 to 1863.
The brewery went into decline with the abolition of guilds in 1872 and the fact that private brewers from Bytča and other towns began to operate in Žilina from the end of the 19th century. The brewery building was now an obstacle to the development of construction and transport in the town, so the town sold it to a private owner, T. Ring, who demolished it and built a shop on the site in 1924. The town of Žilina demolished this building too in 1944.
The houses on the right-hand side of Pivovarská ulica, looking from today’s Hlinkovo námestie, were built by the owners of the houses on the parallel higher-level street, Horný val, whose land extended all the way down to Pivovarská ulica. A total of 14 houses and outbuildings were built on the right side of the street in the years to 1949. At the beginning of the street is a house built by Jozef Grossmann in 1928. This textile merchant had purchased a vacant lot from the town on the site of the former cemetery below the parish church. Using a functionalist design by his brother-in-law, the architect M. M. Scheer, Grossmann built one of the most beautiful houses in this style in town, which even had its own conservatory. Next door to this house is the house of the Adamic family, which has an older medieval outbuilding in its yard. in 1949 there were 4 residential buildings on the other side of the street. One of the most important buildings is the functionalist house built by Dr Vojtech Papp in the 1930s on the corner of Hlinkovo námestie and Pivovarská ulica. Next door to it is an Art Nouveau house built by the builder Pawer in 1911 which became the Roman Catholic parish office in 1987. Close to the end of the street is a house that was originally a functionalist villa built by Mr Stern, a drugstore owner, but has since been rebuilt. At one time it belonged to the important painter Zdeno Horecký. The character of the street has changed over the years. Brick dwelling houses were built on the corner of Pivovarská and Parku na Studničkách Streets in the 1950s. The Boss Hotel stands on the site of a nursery school built for the state forestry enterprise in 1971. The mixed-use building where this QR code is installed was built by the Seker brothers in 2002. The building has been an office of the Japanese firm Takenaka Europe GmbH since 2004. The firm is the general building contractor for many automobile companies and other major investment projects in the world and in Slovakia, including the construction of the Kia Motors Slovakia and Mobis Slovakia plants near Žilina, and the BiW and T&F Jaguar Land Rover Slovakia plants at Nitra. In the building there are also offices of the Canadian insurance company COLONADE Insurance S.A. and the European development company WESTON PRAHA, whose activities have inlcuded sponsorship of the Slovak Sinfonietta in Žilina.
A row of garages was built on the street in the 1960s but has since been demolished. Between 1950 and 1990, several state-owned enterprises and shops were located on the street. It still has a mixture of shops, restaurants and dwelling houses. On the corner of the streets Pivovarská and Parku na Studničkách there is a cross that has stood through many changes.
It can be visited
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.
Position of the monument on the map: C4